MicroStrategy World is the annual user group conference hosted by MicroStrategy. MicroStrategy 2012 will be the 6th conference I've attended and it remains to be the highlight of my year. There are incredible opportunities for education and networking, as well as whetting your appetite for future MicroStrategy enhancements. I'll discuss some of the many benefits of the conference to help convince you to attend if you've never been, and help unearth some annual gems of the show if you've been in the past and aren't sure if there's anything more for you. I learn an incredible amount every year, and some would say I'm already pretty knowledgable in all things MicroStrategy.
MicroStrategy World has something for everyone, from the manager to the data analyst to anyone who has any job function directly related to MicroStrategy. The first 2 days of the conference start with a general assembly keynote presentation, including the kickoff keynote by MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor that sets the tone for MicroStrategy's direction in the coming years. Major customers also present during the keynote to provide some insight on how they're already working closely with MicroStrategy on technologies related to this future. Recent presentations have included early Mobile and Social adopters. In the final keynote, SVP Mark LaRow will take Saylor's keynote into more detail to show what MicroStrategy has either just released or on the verge of releasing from a technology standpoint.
The keynotes are exciting as you get a taste of the direction of MicroStrategy for the coming year(s) and a first glimpse at some new technology.
The meat of the conference are the sessions. These are mostly presented by Product/Program Managers and MicroStrategy Engineers, the very people building and designing the tools we use every day. These sessions range from "How to Build a Dashboard" to "Advanced Customization Techniques" and "High Performance Tuning". These always provide valuable training whether it's already your day to day job function or something you want to start working more with.
Finally there are Partner Sessions, which are presented by sponsoring 3rd Party companies. If you're thinking of switching database platforms, interested in some heavy duty external plugins or just looking to hire some consultants to bang out a big project, there are vendors of all flavors to pitch their wares. In addition to dedicated Partner Sessions, there is also an Exhibit Hall that is open for the entirety of the conference.
The absolute best feature of MicroStrategy World is the networking opportunities. Everyone from the Engineering team will be in attendance, usually in the background just walking around. You can bump into them and have a chat (had a great chat with the Product Manager for Mobile when he sat at my table for breakfast one morning) or schedule specific meetings/run-ins through your Account Executive.
MicroStrategy does a great job of putting you in contact with fellow customers as well. The lunches are broken out by industry so that you'll be sitting with other people in your business. This gives you something to talk about and you can compare stories and ideas. I've met several long term contacts in this way that I still keep in touch with.
On the 2nd night is the Regional Reception, where you can meet all of the customers from your geographical region for drinks and snacks. This is another great way to meet some local customers that you may be able to follow up with in the future for reference calls (both for products you may be interested in (MicroStrategy or not) or for hiring references since it's likely you'll be sharing a talent pool).
Worth the price of admission alone, this is my absolute favorite part of the conference. This 3hr presentation (it always runs over and they can never show everything) is packed with features that have not been released yet, but should be over the next few years. Some of the features are full product demos that will be coming later in the year, and some are just concept art for ideas they're kicking around. The crowd applauses to show their support and excitement for individual ideas and it always keeps me on the edge of my seat. If you're traveling far, do not make the mistake of skipping this to catch an earlier flight since it is the last event.
Value and Conclusion
I've already laid out the training value you gain, which compared to the cost of 1 week of training on 1 topic is already a bargain, as well as the incredible opportunity to network with both MicroStrategy Employees and like minded customers. The ROI you get from MicroStrategy World is what you put in. If you're active in mingling with others, attending all of the sessions you can and setting up appointments with MicroStrategy employees during breaks and lunches, you'll gain a tremendous insight and opportunity.
Where and When
MicroStrategy World has traditionally been held alternating years between Miami, FL and Las Vegas, NV (though in 2010, it was held again in Las Vegas instead of the traditional even year in Miami). 2012 will bring the conference back to sunny South Florida January 23rd - 26th.
by Bryan Brandow
(This article was first published on Bryan`s MicroStrategy Blog)